published 62 stories in 2012, with as usual a story reprinted from a near-simultaneous collection. 3 stories were novellas, 28 were novelets, and 31 were short-stories (three short-shorts). The fiction total was just under 500,000 words, in line with F&SF
's usual numbers.
The top novella this year was a Great Ship story by Robert Reed, "Katabasis" (November-December), about a woman acting as a sort of tour guide across a deadly environment within the ship, and also her backstory on her unusual native planet. The other two novellas were fine work, from Kate Wilhelm and Fred Chappell.
The clear standout novelet for me at F&SF
was "Twenty-two and You", by Michael Blumlein (March-April), which is An excellent piece of pure science fiction examining the unexpected consequences of modest genetic fixes. Other novelets I liked this year included "Jack Shade in the Forest of Souls", by Rachel Pollack (July-August), about a "ghost hunter" of sorts, hired by a man to understand why his wife's ghost is haunting him; "The Color Least Used in Nature", by Ted Kosmatka (January-February), dark and powerful story of a boat builder in a South Pacific island; a pair from Naomi Kritzer: "Liberty's Daughter" (May-June) and "High Stakes" (November-December), both about a teenaged girl living in a radically libertarian enclave at sea; "Troll Blood", by Peter Dickinson (September-October), about a Norwegian woman who discovers something about her unusual ancestry; "Electrica", by Sean McMullen (March-April), about an eccentric scientist in the early 19th Century encoutering a strange being while doing electrical research; and "Small Towns", by Felicity Shoulders (January-February), about a very small woman in a very very small town. There was more good work from the late Michael Alexander, from Andy Duncan, from Peter S. Beagle, from Matthew Hughes, and from Ken Liu.
Of the short stories, I really liked Naomi Kritzer's "Scrap Dragon" (January-February), sort of a post-modernish and subversive take on the old "Prince kills dragon" story; and also Steven Popkes' "Breathe" (November-December), a sharp moral exercise about a family of sort of "health vampires". Other good stories included two from July-August: Jeffrey Ford's "The Natural History of Autumn", in which what firsts seems a brief romance between a man and a prostiture twists darkly a couple of times, and Eleanor Arnason's "The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times", a wry Hwarhath folk tale. From March-April I liked an enjoyable cynical examination of an attempt to bring the dying Mozart forward in time from Robert Walton and Barry Malzberg: "The Men Who Murdered Mozart". Other good short stories came from Ken Liu again, Lewis Shiner, Steven Utley, Robert Reed, Matthew Corradi, Andy Stewart, Michaele Jordan, and Alter S. Reiss.
Of the 62 pieces of short fiction, 13 are by women, about 21%. I also estimate that perhaps 34 of the 62 stories are SF, which is 55%, not unusual for the magazine, which tends to be pretty close to 50/50 SF/Fantasy.
Tags: 2012, magazines, yearly summaries